Sunday, 28 December 2014

Halfdan, son of Thor?

Halfdan was an historical 5th-6th century CE Danish king of the Scylding lineage. However Viktor Rydberg in his Teutonic Mythology Volume 1 gives him a divine parentage:

"Like his father, Halfdan was the fruit of a double fatherhood, a divine and a human. Saxo was aware of this double fatherhood, and relates of his Halfdan Berggram that he, although the son of a human prince, was respected as a son of Thor, and honoured as a god among that people who longest remained heathen; that is to say, the Swedes. In his saga, as told by Saxo, Thor holds his protecting hand over Halfdan like a father his son."

Indeed Rydberg not only claims Halfdan to be a son of Thor but also claims that he is the divine Germanic patriarch Mannus, referred to in Germania 2.2 by Tacitus. He argues that Frigg or Jord is the mother of Mannus' father Tuisto who is "a god brought forth from the earth" (Rives translation of Germania) or "an earth-born god" (Mattingley/Handford translation). Jord (Old Norse 'the earth') is an ancient earth Goddess who is referred to as the mother of Thor in the Eddas. It may be that she is far more ancient than Frigg but as we know it was common practice in our mythology for the functions of older deities to be subsumed by newer ones. If Tuisto is the son of Jord then it is possible that Tuisto may equate with Thor or that is the reasoning of Rydberg. What he does not appear to have considered is that Tuisto and Thor may have been brothers and the interest that Thor shows in Halfdan could be that of an uncle for his nephew which we know to have been a strong and sacred bond amongst our ancestors which rivalled that of father and son.

Rudolf Simek in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology speculates that Tuisto was an hermaphrodite and the manuscript form of this name, Tuisco points to the "same basic meaning". Rydberg points out that like Mannus Halfdan has three sons:

"While Mannus has a son Ingaevo, Halfdan has a stepson Yngve, Inge (Svipdag). The scond son of Mannus is named Hermio. Haldan's son with Groa is called Gudhormr. The second part of this name has, as Jassen has already pointed out, nothing to do with ormr. It may be that the name should be divided Gud-hormr, and that hormr should be referred to Hermio. Mannus' third son is Istaevo. The Celtic scholar Zeuss has connected this name with that of the Gothic (more properly Vandal) heroic race Azdingi, and Grimm has again connected Azdingi with Hazdiggo (Haddingr). Halfdan's third son is in Saxo called Hadingus." (Teutonic Mythology Volume 1, Chapter 25)

In Our Fathers' Godsaga Rydberg refers to Halfdan as:

"Skjold-Borgar and Drott's son, the first Germanic king, regarded as Thor's son and honored with divine respect. He is Svipdag's stepfather, Gudhorm and Hadding's father. Tacitus calls him Mannus."

Now turning to the original sources there are some intriguing references in Saxo Grammaticus' The History of the Danes (English translation by Peter Fisher) to a 'champion' called Thori who fights alongside Haldan (Halfdan):

"After Haldan with his assistance had regained complete strength he summoned Thori, a champion of remarkable talents, and declared war on Erik.
"During the fight Haldan observed his line giving way and therefore clambered with Thori to the top of a cliff strewn with rocks. They prised up these boulders, rolled them down on the enemy drawn up on the slopes below and with their falling weight crushed their opponents' battle-line. Ultimately Haldan's stones achieved the victory he had lost with conventional weapons. For this victorious feat he was named Biargramm, a title which appears to be a compound of 'mountains' and 'fierceness'. For this reason he began to be held in such esteem by the Swedes that he was believed to be the son of great Thor, accorded divine honours by the people and judged worthy of public libations." (Book 7)

Dr Hilda Ellis Davidson in her commentary to Saxo states:

"Herrrmann (p.479) suggested that Saxo found the phrase het a Thor (called on Thor) in his source, and rationalised this into a summons sent to a human ally.
"The term Biargrammus (rock-strong) is not found elsewhere. It would be a suitable title for the god Thor himself, since he shattered rocks with his hammer."

Halfdan is also pictured in Saxo as often fighting with an oak club. This was also the weapon of choice of Hercules who the Germanic peoples equated with Donar, the southern Germanic version of Thor. Donarkeule or Donar Clubs were worn as a protective amulet by the early Germanic tribes, certainly until it was later replaced by the more popular Hammer amulets. The Hammer is a later development of the Axe, all three being symbolic of the Germanic and Indo-Germanic Thunder God. There are several English and Scandinavian folktales that refer to Thor or the 'Devil' (a demonised Thor) throwing rocks down upon his enemies, usually from the top of a mountain. The oak and the mountain are strongly associated with the northern European Thunder God.

"As it happened, he was walking through a tract of shady woodland when he tore up by its roots an oak which blocked his path, and by simply stripping off its branches shaped it into a hefty cudgel" (Book 7)

Oak is of course sacred to the Thunder God and you will note that Halfdan must have possessed supernatural strength to uproot an oak by its roots! On an earlier occasion he also used a club as a weapon:

"Afterwards Haldan was about to do battle with the king's nephew Eric, son of his own uncle Frothi, when he learnt that Erik's champion Hakon had the knack of blunting swords by witchcraft. He therefore fitted iron studs to a gigantic club and made it into a battering instrument, as though its wooden strength would prevail against the power of sorcery." (Book 7)

Iron of course is also sacred to Thor and the metal which his second Hammer was later constructed from. On a third occasion he again uses a club as a weapon:

"He lopped down an oak, shaped it into a club and, having joined combat with twelve single-handed, took their lives." (Book 7)

Earlier in Book 3 of Saxo there is a reference to Thor wielding a club:

"But Thor shattered all their shield-defences with the terrific swings of his club, calling on his enemies to attack him as much as his comrades to support him."

W are told that Hother (Hodr in the Eddas):

"rendered the club useless by lopping off the handle."

This caused the Aesir to lose the battle. In the Skaldskaparmal in the Younger Edda we have an explanation as to why the handle of Thor's Hammer was short. Loki had turned into a fly and had on several occasions bit the dwarf smith Sindri, the latter time on his eyelid which distracted him and caused the handle of the Hammer to be made shorter than desired. In the latter of the three accounts which refer to Haldan fighting with his oak club the later part of the tale suddenly and unaccountably refers to his weapon as being a 'giant hammer':

"With the remainder of his band he then went for Haldan, who smashed him down with the giant hammer and deprived him of life and victory." (Book 7)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Mythology of the Germanic Peoples of the Low Countries

There has been very little written in English or translated into English on the subject of the pre-xtian heathen Gods of the Low Countries (ie the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg). The usual lame and lazy excuse is that there is no single homogenous mythology as the various tribes were not just Germanic but Gaulish or indeed perhaps Celto-Germanic. I believe that the myths, legends and folklore of this part of northern Europe could provide us with a rich and hitherto unmined source of Germanic mythology which may be particularly closely related to the continental Germanic and Anglo-Saxon mythologies.

I have in the past written about Nehalennia, Tanfana (a Northwest German/Netherlandic deity; see http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-germanic-goddess-tamfana-and.html) and Fosite (see http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/fositeforseti-aspect-of-thunor.html) but more often than not this has been part of wider issue than Netherlandic mythology. This is an oversight which I intend to correct in 2015. From toponymy, folklore and historical records we know that the Germanic peoples of continental Germania which includes the Germanic speaking parts of the Low Countries, revered literally hundreds of dieties. I will attempt to resurrect some of these deities during the course of the coming year. I have already made a small start in 2014. An example of this is the almost but not quite forgotten God Krodo from the closely situated Harz Mountains of Lower Saxony (see http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/krodo-lost-saxon-god-traceable-to-aryan.html).

In addition to the lesser known deities the Germanic tribes of the Low Countries also worshipped the better known Gods, eg Wodan, Donar, Tyr and Frija. This is most evident from the Dutch days of the week: zondag, maandag, dinsdag, woensdag, donderdag, vrijdag and zaterdag.

A folktale from Gelderland in the eastern part of the Netherlands is very similar to the encounter of Thor against the Midgardsorm at Ragnarok:

This myth concerns a battle that allegedly took place between Donar the God of Thunder with the winter giants and the Midgaardsnake who strategically align against him. The giants throw hail down, while the snake climbs into a tall oak tree and blows poison into the air. Donar attacks, riding through the air on "his billy-goat wagon", the sky blazes and the earth trembles because of his "never missing thunderhammer." Donar strikes the snake on his head with such force on the head that not only was the monster crushed, the mighty thunderhammer went seven miles deep into the earth. The snake dies. However in the attack the snake's poison scorches and stuns Donar. Donar crashes down, with his "steerless goats" and wagon onto the Donderberg (meaning Donar's hill) in Dieren. Then the earth sank into the sea, the seagod blew a horn and a big black ship came to collect Donar's body. When the floodwaters receded, two lakes mark the spot that are "as deep as the world, the Uddelermeer or "Lake of Uddel" (Uttiloch), and the Godenmeer (God's lake)..." Later the legend continues that Thor's hammer surfaced from the depths. The grave of Migdaardsnake became overgrown with the forest nearby, until in 1222 a bright flame shot out of the pool and the ghost of the snake wriggled up and fled north. The forest was burned and a moor near the lake remains where the forest once was. (via Wikipedia)

The tale helps to eplain via the use of mythology how the Uddeler and Bleeke lakes were formed. Interestingly in addition to the reference to the Midgaardsnake being the cause of Donar's apparent death there is also an intriguing reference to His Hammer penetrating the ground for 7 miles, a motif clearly borrowed from the myth of the theft of Thor's Hammer by the Jotun Thrym! It would appear that the continental Germanic tribes did in fact share a common body of myth with the North Germanic Scandinavian peoples which has inevitably varied through the course of time and geography.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Modraniht-the Night of the Mothers-a Link to Ing

On the evening of the Winter Solstice we carry out our sacred rites to the Mothers, the divine Matronae of our folk. This ancient festival which is part of Yule is referred to by Bede in his De temporum ratione 13 that the heathen Angles carried out a sacrifice in the "modraniht id est matrum noctrum", meaning "the Modraniht, that is, in the night of mothers." Rudolf Simek in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology comments:

"Thus it corresponds to other Germanic Yule-tide festivals; the idea that it might have been a Celtic festival is largely refuted nowadays. The Modraniht as a Germanic sacrificial festival should be associated with the > Matron cult of the West Germanic peoples on the one hand, and to the disablot and > Disting known from medieval Scandinavia on the other hand and is chronologically to be seen as a connecting link between these Germanic forms of cult."

According to Gale R. Owen Modraniht was actually held on 25th of December:

"The winter festival which Bede called Mothers' Night marked the pagan New Year and was held on 25 December. It is likely that this Yule festival (the pagan name for December and January, we may remember, was giuli) involved the bringing in of evergreens, the burning of a Yule log and a feast centred round a boar's head, since these non-Christian features became associated with the Christmas festival celebrated at that time." (Rites and Religions of the Anglo-Saxons, 1981)

"began the year on the 8th kalends of January [25 December], when we celebrate the birth of the Lord. That very night, which we hold so sacred, they used to call by the heathen word Modranecht, that is, "mother's night", because (we suspect) of the ceremonies they enacted all that night." (Bede)

Tony Linsell in his excellent book Anglo-Saxon Mythology, Migration & Magic (1984) speculates:

"That the heathen English used the month as a measure of time is evident from Bede's De Temporum Ratione, written in 725, in which we also learn that the new year began on Midwinter Day (25th December, that is the night of 24th/25th December). On the following night, Mothers' Night, certain ceremonies took place but we do not know what they were, although it seems reasonable to suppose that it was a time to give praise to the Earth Mother, Nerthus (or Frig), and to her son Ing, the God of Brightness."

Kathleen Herbert makes the following very interesting and important point:

"The most sacred night, when the new Year began, was called Modranect, Mothers' Night. 'Modra' is plural; it was the night 'of the Mothers' not 'of the Mother'. He says that it was so called from the ceremonies which took place then; he does not describe them, nor does he say who the Mothers were." (Looking for the Lost Gods of England, 1994)

Mr Linsell refers in his book to a theory of Kathleen Herbert's that "the celebration may have been for the birth, to Frig (Nerthus), of Ing, the God of Brightness, with whom the turning of the year is associated. The symbol of Ing is the boar, and a boar's head is traditionally served on a bed of greenery on Midwinter Day, which is also Christmas Day."

In the Eddas the God Frey was associated with the sun and portrayed as a God of brightness so it is appropriate when we consider that we are at the point of the year when the sun is beginning its long journey of return that the sun or Ing is being given birth to by His mother, who we speculate to be Nerthus. 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Peredur, the Cymric Parzival

Recently I completed my first reading of Peredur the Son of Evrawc from The Mabinogion translated by Lady Charlotte Guest (1812-1895) and published in 1841. Peredur, the son of a northern Earl Evrawc is nephew to King Arthur and becomes a knighted member of his court. According to Lady Charlotte he was probably an historical figure that "fell in the battle of Cattraeth, in the beginning of the 6th century, as Aneurin mentions a chieftain of this name among the slain." Aneurin refers to "Peredur of steel arms".

Lady Charlotte goes on to say in her notes to this tale:

"Peredur is frequently alluded to by the Bards of the Middle Ages, in terms illustrative of the high esteem in which his deeds of prowess then were held. Gruffydd ab Meredydd, who flourished about the end of the 13th century, in his Elegy on Tudor ap Garonwy, one of the ancestors of the House of Tudor, thus mentions him:-

"O Bountiful Creator of the radiant sun and waning moon, Sad is the fall of the chief of valiant deeds, Eagle of the battle-charge, equal to Peredur, Tudor, assaulter of the Angles*, he who never shunned the fight.

"In the old Romances, as Morte d'Arthur, &c., he is celebrated, under the name of Perceval, as one of those engaged in the quest of the Sangreal, in which character he is also spoken of in the Triads, together with Bort, the son of the King of that name, and Galath, the son of Lancelot du Lac.-Tri. lxi. Myv. Ar II. 14."

Evrawc or Efrawg is a Cymric translation of Eboracum, the Latin name for the ancient English city of York. People tend to think of York as a Viking city and that York derives from the Old Danish Jorvik. However before that it belonged to the Angles who called it Eoforwic. Prior to this under Roman rule it was called Eboracum, derived from the ancient British (Cymric) Eborakon, meaning a place of yew trees. However an error in translation from the Cymric Ebor and the Latin Ebor resulted in the similar sounding but different in meaning Eofor or Ebor which is Germanic for boar!

If Peredur was an historical character then he was obviously associated with post Roman York and thus his father was a northern Earl. The Battle of Catraeth or Cattrick took place in about the year 600 CE between the Germanic Angles from the Northumbrian kingdoms of Bernicea and Deira which roughly equates with Southeast Scotland/County Durham/Northumberland (Bernicea) and Yorkshire (Deira). The Britons were defeated in this battle.

What struck me by my reading of Peredur was the heathen nature of the tale. It is marred by xtian references but despite this it is clearly based on pre-xtian Celtic mythology, indicating that whilst Peredur may have been an historical character he was based on an earlier mythological archetype just as in the case of the various potential historical candidates for Robin Hood.

Peredur is clearly the same character as the English Perceval and the German Parzival and apparently Wagner was equated with  the tale of Peredur before he penned his Parsifal sacred drama. Peredur unlike Parzival does not contain any kind of grail but it does remarkably feature the lance! Whilst in the castle of an unnamed uncle Peredur witnesses a strange spectacle:

"The Peredur and his uncle discoursed together, and he beheld two youths enter the hall, and proceed up to the chamber, bearing a spear of mighty size, with three streams of blood flowing from the point to the ground. And when all the company saw this, they began wailing and lamenting. But for all that, the man did not break off his discourse with Peredur. And as he did not tell Peredur the meaning of what he saw, he forbade to ask him concerning it. And when the clamour had a little subsided, behold two maidens entered, with a large salver between them, in which was a man's head, surrounded by a profusion of blood. And thereupon the company of the court made so great an outcry, that it was irksome to be in the same hall with them. But at length they were silent. And when time was that they should sleep, Peredur was brought into a fair chamber."

Interestingly in contrast to Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzifal Peredur is encouraged by his uncle not to ask the meaning of anything that should happen in the castle that would "cause thee to wonder" and that "if no one has the courtesy to inform thee, the reproach will not fall upon thee, but upon me that am thy teacher." So no guilt could be attached to Peredur's lack of compassion unlike how a similar event is portrayed in Parzival.  However later on in the tale he is reproached for failing to ask the meaning of the bloody spear. This particular apect of the story will be analysed in more detail and will be compared with the Parzival account in a future article on my Aryan Myth and Metahistory blog. My purpose in writing this article is simply to draw attention to the lesser known but earlier and more heathen tale of Peredur.

So Peredur whilst making several references to the bloody spear contains no reference or allusion to a grail of any description, unless of course one considers the head on the salver as such. This also will require further analysis. Thus the concept of a grail, whether it be a chalice as in the French romances or a stone in the German Parzival is something which does not originate with the earlier Peredur myth. Regardless of the actual written composition of  Peredur the work itself would have been at first orally transmitted by the Druidic Bards as there are definite Iron Age historical and pre-xtian mythological threads woven into it.

*my emphasis

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Thunaraz and His Relationship with Fiorgynn

In my article http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/fjorgynn-early-term-for-thunaraz.htm   
I drew attention to the existence of an early Germanic Thunder God who predates *Thunaraz. Linguistically it does appear that Fjorgynn is more closely related to *Perkunos along with the Baltic and Slavic Thunder Gods. Conceptually though *Thunaraz is identical with His equivalent in the Baltic and Slavic pantheons and we would expect this to be the case as they are all localised variations of the same Aryan deity.

Interestingly though Brian Branston in his The Lost Gods of England takes the view that Thunar has His origins in the Rhineland as a result of close connections with the Celts:

"Thunor means 'thunder'. The god was christened (if the verb is permissable) in the lower Rhineland although one could say that he was born there. It was at a time when Saxons and Celts were rubbing shoulders: they traded goods, they traded ideas and they traded gods. The name Thunor I take to come from the second element of Celtic Jupiter Tanarus, the 'Thundering Jupiter' and it must have been adopted into a Saxon dialect during the period before the North West European Sound Shift, that is, before A.D. 1."

However Branston qualifies this observation by stating:

"The early development of Thunor seems to have been as follows. As a weather god he can trace his lineage back to Indo-European times: apart from all the North West European tribes having a weather god, others of the Indo-European complex such as Hindus and Hittites have weather gods with strikingly similar attributes."

Branston's rather cumbersome term North West European is intended to be his replacement for the word Germanic or Teutonic  as he feels that they have "an undesireable emotional colouring." Branston wrote this book in 1957. Thankfully this piece of lilly livered political correctness didn't catch on!  

So Branston admits that the Germanic peoples can trace their Thunder God's lineage "back to Indo-European times" but the genesis of the name may he feels may be attributed to the Celts. On page 111 of his book he introduces the deity Fiorgynn:

"As I have said, the cult of the weather god under the name of Thunor began in the Saxon lands of the lower Rhine coterminus with the country of the Celts. From small beginnings perhaps, it spread among most of the North West European tribes. Of course, there were other manifestations of the Indo-European weather god still alongside Thunor in Europe. The eastern branch of the North West Europeans had such a god called Fiorgynn whose name suggests that he was kith and kin to the Lithuanian Perkunas and ultimately to the Hindu Parjanya. Fiorgynn, like many other similar local deities, must have been ousted by Thunor."

The names Taranis and Thunor are terms for thunder and this is what marks these two deities out as being different from their Baltic and Slavic cousins. The Lithuanian Perkunas, the Latvian Perkons, the Prussian Perkonis, the Russian Pyerun, the Czech Perun are all descended from the PIE *Perkwunos/*Perkunos and the first element in their name Per has the meaning of oak, rock or mountain in Proto-Indo-European. All these concepts are intimately linked to the Germanic, Baltic and Slavic Thunder Gods. Thus we are left with the idea at a certain point in prehistory there were two Thunder Gods residing side by side amongst the Teutonic peoples, Fiorgynn who is perhaps the elder and the younger Thunaraz who usurped the other.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Fjorgynn, an Early Term for *Thunaraz

I have discussed before on this and on my Aryan Myth and Metahistory blogs about the interrelatedness of the Northwest Indo-Eurupean Thunder Gods and a possible connection with the Indo-Aryan Parjanya, a much older deity that appears to have been usurped by Indra by the time that the Rig Veda (originally an oral work) was written down. http://aryan-myth-and-metahistory.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/parjanya-original-indra-and-cognate-to.html

I have already demonstrated that the Germanic *Thunaraz, the Celtic Taranis, the Lithuanian Perkunas, the Latvian Perkons, the Prussian Perkonis, the Russian Pyerun, the Czech Perun are all descended from the PIE *Perkwunos/*Perkunos. The etymological relationship with the PIE form is more obvious from the Baltic and Slavic names for this deity but a relationship with * Thunaraz and indirectly with Taranis may be found through the name of an obscure Germanic deity Fjorgynn who is the father of the Goddess Frigg and is mentioned only twice in the Eddas:

"Be silent, Frigg, you're Fiorgyn's daughter and you've always been mad for men: Ve and Vili, Vidrir's wife, both were taken into your embrace." ( Lokasenna 26, Elder Edda, Larrington translation).

"Be thou silent, Frigg! Thou art Fiorgyn's daughter, and ever hast been fond of men, since Ve and Vili, it is said, thou, Vidrir's wife, didst both to thy bosom take." (Thorpe translation)

Vidrir it should be noted is just a heiti, a by-name for Odin, meaning 'weather god'. The incident of Frigg's unfaithfulness is recounted more fully in Snorri's Ynglinga Saga. Incidentally Frigg's conduct is more reminiscent of Freyja's character and I have argued before that these are just two aspects of a primordial Germanic Goddess.  http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/frigg-and-freyja-originally-same-deity.html

The other reference to Fjorgynn as Frigg's father is found in Skaldskaparmal in the Younger Edda:

"How shall Frigg be referred to? By calling her daughter of Fiorgyn, wife of Odin, mother of Baldr, rival of Rind and Gunnlod and Gerd, mother-in-law of Nanna, queen of Aesir and Asyniur, of Fulla and falcon form and Fensalir." (Faulkes translation)

Fjorgynn (the correct spelling of Frigg's father's name) is not to be confused with Fjorgyn which is a by-name for Frigg and means earth. Jacob Grimm connects Fiorgynn with the Thunder God:

"The neut. noun fairguni (Gramm. 2, 175. 4530 means mountain. What if it were once especially the Thunder-mountain, and a lost Fairguns the name of the god (see Suppl.)? Or, starting with fairguni with its simple meaning of mons unaltered, may we not put into that masc. Fairguns or Fairguneis, and consequently into Perkunas, the sense of the abovementioned, he of the mountain top? a fitting surname for the thundergod.

"Now it is true that all of the Anzeis, all the Aesir are enthroned on mountains (p.25), and Firgun might have been used of more than one of them; but that we have a right to claim it specially for Donar and his mother, is shown by Perun, Perkun, and will be confirmed presently by the meaning of the mount and rock which lies in the word hamar."(Teutonic Mythology Volume 1)

At this point it may be useful to remember that the Proto-Germanic *Thunaraz and the PIE *Pekwunos are etymologically related to the name of the Thunder God amongst the non-Indo-European Finno-Ugric peoples, most especially the Estonians (Turris, Peko and Pekolaso). The Sami Thunder God is Horagelles. Whether or not the non-PIE examples point to cultural borrowing or to a common pre-Aryan/pre Finno-Ugric origin is difficult to tell but by studying other Indo-European and indeed non-Indo-European but northern European mythologies we can learn much more about *Thunaraz than is revealed in just the Eddas and saga material. http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/finnish-and-estonian-thunder-gods.html

The image at the head of this article is a photograph of reportedly the oldest surviving oak tree in Europe, dating back between 1500-2000 years in Stelmuze in Lithuania. Perkunas was worshipped under this tree.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Neolithic Battle Ax and its Associations with the Indo-European Thunder God

Many times on this and my Aryan Myth and Metahistory blog I have discussed the metamorphosis of the Thunder God's axe into the hammer in the Germanic mythology and how the original axe was a stone rather than an iron weapon. Amongst the Balts and Slavs the axe maintained its original form. It is significant that even with the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age the Indo-Europeans, known as the Battle Ax people preferred to carry their original stone axes rather than the new bronze ones even when bronze became more readily available. Even with the replacement eventually of the stone axe by the bronze as a weapon of war the chieftains still carried a polished stone axe as a symbol of their regal and divinely santioned authority. This is exemplified in the Stonehenge Bush Barrow and Clandon Barrow maces.

The Clandon Barrow mace is very similar to the one found in Bush Barrow. Describing the Bush Barrow mace Patrick Crampton states:

"His sceptre, mounting a rare type of fossilferous limestone from Devon, with wood and ornamental bone shaft, was laid with him." (Stonehenge of the Kings)

Leon Stover elaborates in much more detail about the mace:

"Its mace head of polished shale (fossil Stromaporoid, common enough in the tin mining area of South Devon) is perforated to accommodate the now perished wooden handle. Around its hole are traces of a bronze ring with which it was attached to its shaft with a bronze pin, the work of a skilled craftsman, as are the three perfectly cut bone cylindrical mounts of zig-zag form." (Stonehenge City. A Reconstruction)

Professor Stover goes on to compare the mace with the description that Homer gave of the lightning sceptre of King Agamemnon of Mycenae.  Similar zig-zag mounts have been discovered in a dolmen at Kerlagat in western France.

"Some authorities suspect Mycenaean influence, but this is not possible because Mycenae did not arise until 500 years after the construction of Stonehenge III. A true explanation has to lie in the foundations of Indo-European cosmology, which everywhere posited a thunder-and-lightning god not unlike the well-atested Thor of Norse mythology." 

Describing the Clandon Barrow mace Stover states:

"Its mace head is of polished jet or shale, with five gold studs inset, two in front, two in back, one on top: the Five Directions indicated, with Center at Stonehenge."

Both Stover and Cramption taking their cue from Professor R.J.C. Atkinson in 1953 (Stonehenge) believed that the Mycenaeans were in some way responsible for the construction of Phase III of Stonehenge but by 1982 when Stover republished his 1972 novel Stonehenge under the new title of Stonehenge: Where Atlantis Died he admitted in his Afterword that this theory was no longer accepted generally by academics. Many of Stover's theories and arguments were already posited in Crampton's book in 1967 and indeed Crampton even suggests that one day someone may care to address his theories in a work of fiction which Stover subsequently did just 5 years later!

I believe that the reason why the Battle Ax people still clung tenaciously to their stone battle aes is because of their religious significance. The cult of the axe and the Thunder God can be traced back to Neolithic times:

"The hammer is Thor`s most sacred weapon. Before Sindre forged one for him of iron (Gylfaginning), he wielded a hammer of stone. This is evident from the very name hamarr, a rock, a stone. The club is, as we have seen, the weapon of  the Teutonic patriarch, and is wielded side by side with Thor`s hammer in the conflict with the powers of frost." (Teutonic Mythology Volume 1, Viktor Rydberg)

And in Chapter 111:

 "In the Teutonic mythology, Thor`s hammer was not originally of metal, but of stone."

Ryberg in his Teutonic Mythology volume 2 (Investigations into Germanic Mythology Volume II Part 1]) Chapter 29 repeats this argument:

" "And in the poem, verse 51, it is said that Thor`s sons shall possess Vingnir`s hammer after the battle of Ragnarok-doubtlessly referred to as such, because Thor received his first hammer either from Vingnir or in a battle with him."(Section 97) 

"Thor`s oldest weapon is made of stone. The name itself says so, hamarr, and this is confirmed by the folk-idea of the lightning bolt as a stone wedge. Likewise, Indra`s oldest weapon was made of stone; it is called the `celestial stone`(Rigv. II 30,5) and is said to be `four-edged`{Rigv. IV, 22,1,2. This `four-edged` weapon has its symbol in the swastika, a figure that is rediscovered in the realm of Germanic memory and therefore must have derived from the Proto-Indo-European era." (Section 110)

 "It is certain that Thor took a stone hammer from Vingnir`s home as a spoil of victory, which he always used against the giants afterwards, except during the short time he possessed an iron hammer that Mimir`s son Sindri had forged for him."(Our Fathers` Godsaga, )

And from the Asatru Edda:
"Thorr was brought up in Jotunheimr by a jarl named Vingnir, and when he was ten years old, he received the stone hammer, Vingnir`s Mjollnir."

Even before the emergence of the Thunder God's axe the original projectile that He hurled from the skies was the stone:

"In Germany, Stone Age celts known as Donnerkeil ('Donar's wedges') were supposedly thrown to earth by the thunder god. Similar ceraunia were also treasured in Viking-period Scandinavia, as well as elsewhere in Europe into the nineteenth century." (The Divine Thunderblot. Missile of the Gods, J.T. Sibley-which I highly recommend.) 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Axe/Hammer as an Iconic Representation of the Thunder God

According to J.T. Sibley in her remarkable book The Divine Thunderbolt. Missile of the Gods (2009), a work which I highly recommend, there is evidence for worship of the Thunder God going back to before 2000 BCE in the Neolithic Denmark where an 'Axe God' in the form of a flint celt mounted on a wooden shaft has been found in Follenslev lake/bog. The shaft of the axe was originally buried in the ground to its horizontal line. "It is unclear whether the spherical 'head' above the axe might have been carved to resemble a human face."

This artifact is evidence for a very early knowledge of the single-bladed axe being a divine thunderweapon and precedes the Bronze Age rock carvings which depict God-like figures waving single-bladed axes in the air. Miss Sibley posits the theory that the axe was worshiped as a divine representation of the Thunder God and I am inclined to agree with her. Later on in her book she draws our attention to the fact that in the Baltic lands huge iron hammers were "worshiped in the ancient cult sites." These iron hammers were erected in a vertical position in either a grove or a temple as a "proxy for the humanoid idol of the god."

The Scythians likewise venerated Ares via a mighty iron sword:

"The impressive personification of the sword matches well with that of the hammer, and to my way of thinking each confirms the other. Both idea and name of two of the greatest gods pass over into the instrument by which they display their might.
"Herodotis 4, 62 informs us, that the Scythians worshipped Ares under the semblance or symbol of an ancient iron sword, which was elevated on an enormous stack of brushwood ['three furlongs in length and breadth, but less in height'] (Asgard and the Gods, Wilhelm Waegner, 1886).

Parjanya, Perkunos, Perun, Thunaraz, Taranis-a Comparison

Whilst in Germanic mythology *Thunaraz became eclipsed by the increasingly more dominant *Wodanaz, in the Balto-Slavic world His equivalent maintained His dominance, although He was not always the most prominent deity in their pantheons:

"We will now examine it a little more in detail, commencing with the ideas attached to the early inhabitants of Russia to those solar gods who are supposed by many eminent scholars to have originally held higher rank than the wielder of the Thunderbolt, Perun." (Songs of the Russian People, William Shedden Ralston, 1872)

Readers of my blogs will realise that I have maintained consistently that over the millenia there has been a shift of power from *Tiwaz to *Thunaraz and then to *Wodanaz which is mirrored in the Celtic mythology also or at least the transfer of power from Nuada to Lug is. Taranis does not appear to be so prominent as *Thunaraz at the time of the recording of the Irish myths. The primary divine archetype that the folk requires does change from era to era to meet their current needs. We see a similar thing happening today with the gradual eclipse of the Woden archetype by Widar, His son.

Referring to the early solar deities of the Slavs Ralston states:

"The most ancient among these deities is said to have been Svarog, apparently the Slavonic counterpart of the Vedic Varuna and the Hellenic Ouranos. His name is deduced by Russian philologists from a root corresponding with the Sanskrit Sur-to shine, and is compared by some of them with the Vedic Svar, and the later word Svarga, heaven."

The Sun is the child of Svarog and is called Dazhbog. Dazh is identical with the Germanic Dag which in modern German is Tag, day. Thus Dazhbog is the Day God. Bog of course means God. Another son of Svarog is Ogon, fire and is cognate with the Indian Agni, which is where we get the modern English ignite from. As mentioned in my recent article http://aryan-myth-and-metahistory.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/parjanya-original-indra-and-cognate-to.html the Indian Thunder God Parjanya is a more ancient God than Indra and performs very similar functions but appears to be less war-like. Clearly Parjanya is etymologically linked with Perun and Perkunas, being derived from the ancient Proto-Indo-European *perkunwos.

"Russian mythologists identify the name of Perun with that of the Vedic Parjanya. Whether the latter was an independent deity, or whether his name was merely an epithet of Indra, does not appear to be certain, nor are philologists agreed as to whether Parjanya means 'the rain' or 'the thunderer;' but 'it is very probable that our ancestors adored, previously to the separation of the Aryan race, a god called Parjana, or Pargana, the personification of the thundering cloud, whom they believed to rouse the thunder-storm, to be armed with the lightning, to send the rain, to be the procreator of plants, and the upholder of justice. Afterwards the Graeco-Italian nation, bent on the adoration of Dyaus, forgot him entirely; the Aryans of India and the Teutonic tribes continued to worship him as a subordinate member of the family of the gods, but the Letto-Slavonians raised him to the dignity of a supreme leader of all other deities." (Ralston)

The description of Parjanya, more so perhaps than Indra corresponds more closely to the Balto-Slavic Thunder God:

"The desription of Parjanya is in all respects applicable to the deity worshipped by the different branches of the Slavo-Lettic family under various names, such as Lithuanian Perkunas, the Lettish Perkons, the Old Prussian Perkunos, the Polish Piorun, the Bohemian Peraun, and the Russian Perun." (Ralston)

"Vayu-or Vata- 'Wind' is properly of atmospheric origin, a gale-god whose Indo-Iranian age is proved by his more important Iranian counterpart Vayu. Parjanya-(once [RV 1,164.51] in the plural [cf. Rudrah] is a related rain-god figure cognate in name with the Baltic (Lithuanian) thunder-god Perkunas and his Slavic (Old Russian) counterpart Perunu; in that case he is an ancient variant of the type, shunted to the Vedic periphery by the ascendancy of Indra." ( Comparative Mythology, 1987, Jaan Puhvel)

The Balts and Slavs lit a sacred fire before the image of the Thunder God:

"In Lithuania Perkunas, as the God of Thunder, was worshipped with great reverence. His statue is said to have held in its hand 'a precious stone like fire,' shaped in the image of the lightning,' and before it constantly burnt an oak-wood fire. If the fire by any chance went out, it was rekindled by means of sparks struck from the stone. His name is not yet forgotten by the people, who say, when the thunder rolls, Perkuns grumena, and who still sing dainos in which he is mentioned. In one of those a girl who is mourning for the loss of her flowers is asked,-

"Did the north wind blow,
Or did Perkunas thunder or send greetings?

In another it is told how when

The Morning Star held a wedding-feast,
Perkunas rode through the doorway,
Struck down the green oak" (Ralston)

There are many more such dainos or heathen hymns preserved by the Lithuanians which refer to Perkunas. It would serve us well to study them in more detail.

According to Jaan Puhvel the Goddess Frigg's father or lover was called Fjorgynn. Also a Fjorgyn is named as the mother of Thor. This is possibly an alternative name for Jord (Earth). These names Fjorgynn and Fyorgyn are cognate with Perkunas and they in fact have been a divine couple.

The German language Prussian Chronicle from about the year 1520 refers to the worship of a divine triad of Patollo, Potrimpo and Perkuno by  a high priest called Bruteno. The icons of the Gods were installed in three niches of an oak tree. A perpetual fire was burned before the icon. As Lithuanian heathenism was not abolished until as late as the 15th century and it still continued to linger on it would serve us well as Germanic heathens to study closely the Baltic myths to gain greater insight into our own closely related Germanic deities. It should be noted that heathenism is growing in the Baltic and Slavic lands at an apparently faster rate than in Germanic countries.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Sacred Rock Art of Bohuslän

The antiquity of our Germanic Gods is not in any doubt. Despite the written evidence of the Eddas and Sagas, historical records and folklore we also have the sacred rock carvings at Bohuslän in the province of Götaland in Sweden, the home of the Geats, referred to in Beowulf. Interestingly the Geats or gēatas in Old English were probably worshipers of Odin as Geat is etymologically linked with Gaut, one of the Odinsheite.

The rock carvings, dating back to the Nordic Bronze Age of the 2nd millenium BCE are scattered throughout  Bohuslän and they abound with solar symbols such as ships, horses, sunwheels and God-like figures wielding axes and spears. Felix R. Paturi in his Prehistoric Heritage (1976)  states:

"Sceptics have protested that the famous collection of legends was committed to writing only around 1220 A.D., which would mean that they were about 2,000 years more recent that the rock carvings. However Professor Herbert Kuhn meets the criticism with the remark that religious images live for thousands of years.
"Even more convincing is the fact that the descriptions of the gods in the Edda are illustrated with the old pictures of Thor, the most powerful of Germanic gods. His symbols are the wheel divided into four and the hammer, and his sacred animal is the stag. This is exactly how the ancient Germanic peoples portrayed him in their rock carvings. His body is the four-spoked wheel, he swings the hammer high above his head which is often represented by the head of a stag."

It should be noted that Mr Paturi was not a scholar of mythology and he is no doubt confusing the stag with Thor's goats. It is Indra, the Indo-Aryan equivalent of Thor whose chariot was pulled by deer. Nevertheless he is correct in drawing an association between these figures and symbols with the Gods of the Eddas.

H.R. Ellis Davidson in the now out of print but richly illustrated Scandinavian Mythology (1969) comments on the Germanic Bronze Age:

"From this period we find clear evidence of ritual from many symbolic objects recovered from the earth, and from the rich and crowded pictures of what appear to be religious ceremonies on the rock surfaces of Scandinavia. Now for the first time we find clear traces of a deity or deities connected with the sky and with battle, the god of a warrior people whose year was governed by the movements of the sun. The axe, already venerated in the Neolithic period as as man's most treasured tool and weapon, is brandished in the hands of a powerful phallic figure, dominating lesser figures on the rocks. A giant figure is also shown with a spear in hand, and spears and axes are represented many times as if they were sacred symbols, linked with the divine powers.
"The axe must be associated with the god who ruled the sky and sent thunder and lightning and the life-giving rain. Whether the spear-bearing figure represented him in another aspect, as leader in battle and giver of victory, we do not know for certain, but this seems probable. These male figures and the weapons which they carry are connected constantly in the carvings with ships and horses. It seems that the primary myth of the Northern Bronze Age concerned the wheeled wagon or chariot of the sun journeying across the heavens, and also the ship of the sun, which is thought to have symbolised the sun's journey below the earth when it disappeared beneath the western sea." 


Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Heruli, Ancient Rune Masters and Männerbund

At one time the Heruli were considered to be a Germanic tribe but scholars are now of the opinion in the main that instead of being a tribe they were in fact members of a cultic association. Historical records indicate that Heruli were involved in wars during the 3rd to 6th centuries CE in Italy, Greece, Spain, Gaul, Scotland and in North Africa. These were highly trained Germanic warriors that were members of Männerbünde and were extremely mobile horse-riding shock troops that would have been deployed in difficult situations.

However as I have indicated by the use of the term cultic they were not merely warriors but also highly trained Rune Masters.

"Hoefler's very convicing theory connected the campaigns of the Heruli with the expansion of the runes. Helmet A from Negau would serve as a link, as it bears the name Erul, a Germanic centurion in Roman service from the 1st or 2nd century A.D. If this is the case, then members of the Heruli (like the above named Erul) would have created the runic alphabet on Etruscan and Roman models at this early stage. This knowledge of runes could have spread quickly as far as Scandinavia because of the rigid organisation and great mobility of the bands of Heruli. As a result, it is likely that for a long time the knowledge of the runes would have been considered as the privilege of the members of this band of warriors who were bound to Odin by cult." (Dictionary of Northern Mythology, Rudolf Simek)

Dr Stephen Edred Flowers (Edred Thorsson) discusses in his Runes and Magic how the terms erilaR and gothi "later evolved into clearly defined social functions, or official titles (cf. ON jarl < erilaR, and gothi < gud-on". He also reminds us of the connection between the OE eorl ('warrior') and erilaR. He states "One has only to compare OE eorl: 'warrior', to see that erilaR must have had quite a broad semantic field. On the other hand it cannot be doubted that erilaR, whether it was originally an ethnic or functional designation, must have taken on the special, virtually titular, meaning of 'rune-master' in the North Germanic territory from between ca. 450 and 600, however the actual etymology of erilaR < *er-il-az remains obscure".

Likewise Simek theorises that the time of the spread of the runes into North Germanic territory (ie Scandinavia) occurred at about this time:

"During the conquest of Italy by the Odoaker in 476 A.D., the Heruli belonged to his main troops. After the downfall of the Danubian state of the Heruli by the Langobards, the majority of the Heruli migrated to Scandinavia."

As Simek points out the Heruli were a cultic organisation of warriors who were "bound to Odin". Odin is thus the lord of the Heruli, being master of both war and of the runes. It is clear to me that no-one can call him or herself a Rune Master unless they are bound to Him. Simek is wrong to assume as so many scholars do that the runes have their origin in the alphabet of another people. This article is not the place to discuss this but the runes had developed as special sacred and magical signs from the Proto-Germanic period onwards and they are just a remnant of our lost runic heritage. It is also worth remembering that the cult of Odin imported itself into Scandinavia from Germania, no doubt in part at least due to groups like the Heruli.

The association of the term erilaR with the ON jarl or the OE eorl (earl) is an ancient one that can be found in the myth of the founding of the Germanic caste system in the Lay of Rig or the Rigsthula in the Elder Edda. The Jarl caste is the 3rd one to be sired by Rig and Rig calls the child Jarl-Rigr. Jarl sires children and names them Adal, Barn, Sonr and Konr ungr, in other words, noble, child, son and young descendant or king. Both Simek and Flowers reject the notion that Rig is Heimdall, in favour of Rig being Odin, the sire of nobles and kings and the lord of the runes. Rig teaches Jarl the runes and I do not consider it to be merely a coincidence that the Rune Masters of Germania should be designated as Heruli which we know via erilaR is cognate with jarl/eorl. There is a mystery here for us to ponder on.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Lodurr, a Hypostasis for Loki?

I have already explored in previous articles the links between Loki and Lugos/Lugh/Lleu and how He is a hypostasis for Woden, and further links to the entity known as Lucifer. There is a further connection to Woden via the God Lodurr who is mentioned in Voluspa 18 with Odin and Hoenir as being responsible for giving life to man who incidentally already existed:

"Until there came three mighty and benevolent Aesir to the world from their assembly. They found on earth, nearly powerless, Ask and Embla, void of destiny.
"Spirit they possessed not, sense they had not, blood nor motive powers, nor goodly colour. Spirit gave Odin, sense gave Hoenir, blood gave Lodur, and goodly colour." (Voluspa 17-18, Elder Edda, translated by Benjamin Thorpe).

"Until three gods, strong and loving, came from that company to the world; they found on land Ash and Embla, capable of little, lacking in fate.
"Breath they had not, spirit they had not, character nor vital spark nor fresh complexions; breath gave Odin, spirit gave Hoenir, vital spark gave Lodur, and fresh complexions." (translated by Carolyne Larrington)

Each of these three Gods gave something different to man but together they raised man that already existed into a higher state of being. I am reminded of the Lay of Rig where Rig (variously interpreted as being either Heimdall or Odin) also helped to improve man's condition but did so in the creation of three separate castes, the highest caste being the Jarl or noble caste that was clearly biologically superior to the other two castes, especially higher than the Thrall caste who are distinctly different in appearance and aptitude from the Jarls and Karls.

The only other reference to Lodurr occurs in the 12th century Islendigadrapa. Rudolf Simek in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology indicates that as Lodurr appears in the same company of Gods as Loki, ie Odin and Hoenir then scholars have speculated that Lodurr may in fact be Loki. It is certainly strange that such an important God should be barely mnetioned in the Eddas. Simek does not appear to be convinced by the argument that these two are one and the same deity. However I disagree with him. Loki as I have pointed out in earlier articles is a development of Loge or Logi, clearly a fire deity and this is emphasised in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen in the character of Loge who is both the God of Fire and a trackster.

 "The name Loki, like that of the Latin Vulcanus, denotes the light or blaze of fire, and in such phrases as Locke dricker vand, Loki drinks water, described the phenomena of the sun drinking when its light streams in shafts from the cloud rifts to the earth or the waters beneath. The word thus carries us to the old verb liuhan, the Latin lucere, to shine, and to Logi as its earlier form, the modern German lohe, glow; but as the Greek tradition referred the name Oidipous......., to know and to swell, so a supposed connexion with the verb lukan, to shut or lock, substituted the name Loki for Logi, and modified his character accordingly." (The Mythology of the Aryan Nations, Volume II, George William Cox)

In a much earlier text, Vellekla (Einar Skalaglamm, 9th century) there is an Odinsheiti or kenning-Lopts vinr (Lopt's friend). Simek accepts that Loptr is an alternative name for Loki. There is a similar Odinsheiti in Eyvind's 10th century Haleygjatal-Lodurs vinr (Lodurr's friend). John Lindow in his Handbook of Northern Mythology makes the same comparison.

Snorri Sturluson in his Younger Edda replaces the triad of Odin-Hoenir-Lodurr with Odin-Vili-Ve, the sons of Bor and Bestla. Indeed Lodurr is entirely absent from the Younger Edda.

"'One day.` replied Har, 'as the sons of Bor were walking along the sea-beach they found two stems of wood, out of which they shaped a man and a woman. The first (Odin) infused into them life and spirit; the second (Vili) endowed them with reason and the power of motion; the third (Ve) gave them speech and features, hearing and vision. The man they called Ask, and the woman, Embla."(Gylfaginning, translated by I.A. Blackwell)

"Then High replied: 'As Bor's sons walked along the sea shore, they came across two logs and created people out of them. The first gave breath and life, the second consciousness and movement, the third a face, speech and hearing and sight; they gave them clothes and names. The man was called Ask, the woman Embla,..."(translated by Anthony Faulkes)

Why two of the original triad from the older work, the Elder Edda , ie Hoenir and Lodurr should be replaced in Snorri's account by Vili and Ve is intriguing but merits a separate discussion!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Gwydion, a British/Belgic form of Woden

Jacob Grimm in Teutonic Mythology Volume I makes a comparison between Woden and the British deity Gwydion in his footnotes on page 150, Chapter VII (Wuotan, Wodan [Odinn]:

"In the Old British mythology there appears a Gwydion ab Don, G. son of Don, whom Davies (Celtic Researches pp. 168, 174. Brit.myth.p 118,204,263-4,353,429.504,541) identifies with Hermes; he invented writing, practised magic, and built the rainbow; the milky way was named caer Gwydion, G.'s castle (Owen, sub v.). The British antiquaries say nothing of Woden, yet Gwydion seems near of kin to the above Gwodan=Wodan. So the Irish name for dies Mercurii, dia Geden, whether modelled on the Engl. Wednesday or not, leads us to the form Goden, Gwoden (see Suppl.)"

It is interesting that according to Paul the Deacon (8th century CE) amongst the East Germanic tribes of the Vandals and Langobards Wodan was referred to as Godan or Guodan. Indeed the subsitution of the 'w' for a 'g' is to be found in other places in the Germanic world. Grimm refers to places which were sacred to Wodan which contain the initial letter 'g' such as Godesberg, near Bonn which in the Middle Ages was called Gudensberg. Indeed the older name of the city was Wodenesberg. Near the holy oak at Hesse there was a Wuodenesberg which has variously been called Vdenesberg and Gudensberg. There is also a Gudensberg near Erkshausen in Rotenburg and likewise a Gudensberg near Oberelsungen and Zierenberg. The Latin spelling would be Vodinberg. There is also a city referred to in mediaeval documents called Gotansberg. So there certainly seems to be a precendent in the Germanic world for connecting Wodan with Godan.

Returning to the subject of Gwydion being Woden Charles Squire in The Mythology of the British Islands states:

"It was a belief common to the Aryan races that wisdom as well as wealth came originally from the underworld; and we find Math represented in the Mabinogi bearing his name as handing on his magical lore to his nephew and pupil Gwydion, who there is good reason to believe was the same divine personage whom the Teutonic tribes worshipped as 'Woden' and 'Odin'. Thus equipped Gwydion son of Don became the druid of the gods, the 'master of illusion and phantasy', and not only that but the teacher of all that is useful and good, the friend and helper of mankind, and the perpetual fighter against niggardly underworld powers for the good gifts which they refused to allow out of their keeping."

We already have seen from earlier articles that Woden/Loki equate with the Celtic Lugos/Lugh/Lleu and yet the Mabinogi of Math makes it clear that Gwydion fathered Lleu through His sister Arianrod (Aryan Wheel). He is thus His own father just as Widar is both the son of Woden and Woden reborn. I do recommend Squire's work which incidentally was also studied by Savitri Devi no less!

Robert Graves in his The White Goddess states:

"Professor Sir John Rhys takes Gwydion for a mixed Teuton-Celt deity and equates him with Woden...." (page 51)

Also: "That the Belgae invaded Britain in 400 BC, and that their god was the [Celto-Teutonic] Gwydion [alias Woden, or Odin] and that the ash [Ygdrasill] was sacred to him." (Appendix A Two Letters to the Press)

It is interesting that Graves should identify the Belgae who invaded Britain as a Teutonic tribe. This is something which I have discussed in a earlier post concerning the colonisation of Britain by Germanic peoples much earlier than the accepted date of 449 CE. See: http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/ancient-presence-of-germanic-peoples-in.html

See also: http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-belgae-and-ancient-germanic.html

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Image of Loki on the Snaptun Stone and the Gnezdovo Amulet

The two images above are extremely similar in form. The image to the left is a photograph taken from the Snaptun Stone, discovered in 1950 in Snaptun, Denmark and dating back to around 1,000 CE. It is believed that this stone was a hearth stone. The nozzle of a bellows would have been inserted into the hole at the front of the stone. Air blown through the stone would cause flames to shoot forth from the top of it. This is significant for we know that Loki is associated with fire.

"Logi, as we have seen, was a second son of  Forniotr, and the three brothers Hler, Logi, Kari on the whole seem to represent water, air and fire as elements. Now a striking narrative (Sn. 54.60) places Logi by the side of Loki, a being from the giant province beside a kinsman and companion to the gods. This is no mere play upon words, the two really signify the same thing from different points of view, Logi the natural force of fire, and Loki, with a shifting of the sound, a shifting of the sense: of the burly giant has been made a sly seducing villain. The two may be compared to the Prometheus and the Hephaestus (Vulcan) of the Greeks; Okeanos was a friend and kinsman of the former. But the two get mixed up. " (Teutonic Mythology Volume 1, Jacob Grimm)

Grimm goes on to make some comparisons between these two sets of Germanic and Greek deities which is rather convincing.

 "The name Loki, like that of the Latin Vulcanus, denotes the light or blaze of fire, and in such phrases as Locke dricker vand, Loki drinks water, described the phenomena of the sun drinking when its light streams in shafts from the cloud rifts to the earth or the waters beneath. The word thus carries us to the old verb liuhan, the Latin lucere, to shine, and to Logi as its earlier form, the modern German lohe, glow; but as the Greek tradition referred the name Oidipous......., to know and to swell, so a supposed connexion with the verb lukan, to shut or lock, substituted the name Loki for Logi, and modified his character accordingly." (The Mythology of the Aryan Nations Volume II, George William Cox)

I have noted before the etymological connection between Loki and the Celtic Lugh. The Proto-Celtic root *lug may be derived from the Proto-Indo-European *leuk, meaning to shine.

The identification of the  Snaptun Stone with Loki is also enhanced by the fact that the face on the stone has a scarred lip which we know was one of Loki`s features from the tale related in Skladskaparmal in the Younger Edda where the sons of Ivaldi stitched up Loki's lips.

The second image is of  an amulet found as part of the Gnezdovo hoard in Russia. It is commonly assumed (without any evidence) to be an amulet associated with Odin. However some feel that the deity it depicts is more likely to be Loki and when one considers the similarity in likeness between the amulet and the stone I must conclude that it is intended to be Loki which helps to weaken the assumption of most scholars that Loki had no cult!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Odin Stones as Symbolical of Woden's Eye

In English folklore it was believed that the Odin Stone, also called the Holey Stone, Witch Stone, Hag Stone, Wishing Stone and Seeing Stone had particular magical properties. It could be used to protect people from nightmares and as a defence against thunder and lightning but also it enabled the possessor of the stone to see into the future and other worlds. As pointed out in http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/odin-stones-and-odin-stone.html (12/8/13) it was associated both with Woden and Thunor.

What I would like to focus on in this article is its association with Woden and His All-seeing eye. In the Eddas it is said that Odin was the occupant of the throne Hlidskjalf. Rudolf Simek in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology suggests that the etymology of hlid is opening. We know of course that skjalf means tower, being linked to the Old English scylf and scef. The Middle Dutch schef means scaffolding. John Lindow in his Handbook of Norse Mythology suggests doorway-bench or watchtower as possible meanings. Apart from Odin only His consort Frigg is allowed to occupy this watchtower. On one occasion of course Frey did so but this resulted in his temprary madness when He became infatuated with the giantess Gerd.

This High Seat enables Odin to view the nine worlds. This transforms Him into the All-Father, who is All-knowing. His ravens Huginn and Muninn perform a similar function as His eyes and ears. This ability is only intended for Odin who alone of the Gods is All-seeing and All-knowing. However Heimdall does appear to have certain similar abilities but it should be noted that there is already a certain overlap between these two Gods. Rig, the father of the three Germanic castes is represented in the prose introduction to the Rigsthula in the 14th century Codex Wormianus as Heimdall. I believe this to be a mistake and Rig is merely the title which rightly belongs to Odin, as this means king in Irish. It also cognate with the Latin rex.

Going back to Odin Stones it is believed that by looking through such a naturally formed holed stone one can see into the future:

"In English folk tradition, smaller stones with natural holes through them are seen as magical and used as amulets. While speculative, it is thus not beyond the bounds of reason to suggest that 'Hlidskjalf' could actually have reflected such a belief, and that Odinn's capacity to see through all the worlds from his seat there was as much a function of the holy/magical opening in the boulder-cf. the scene in Saxonis Gesta Danorum where the battle-maid Ruta tells Biarco to look through the opening in her bent arms so as to see Othinus (vol. I, II, vii, verse 26, p.60)" (Miscellaneous Studies Towards the Cult of Odinn, Stephen Grundy, 1994)

These small Odin Stones are a portable version of the large megalithis that contain large holes, some of which still survive today. The most famous one, the Odin Stone was destroyed in 1814 and was located near the Stanness Standing Stones on Orkney. Parents would often pass their sick children through them for healing as they were regarded as sacred. Trees sometimed fulfilled a similar function:

"These trees, when young and flexible, were severed and held open by wedges, while ruptured children, stripped naked, were pushed through the apertures, under a persuasion that by such a process the poor babies would be cured of their infirmity.
 "This custom, and that of passing children and cattle through perforated earth or rocks, or through natural or artificial openings in trees, especially the ash and the oak, is common to most European countries."(Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore, Walter Keating Kelly, 1863)

Dr Grundy also refers to the Externsteine:

"The German sandstone formations called the Externsteine include one crag with a hole bored in the northeastern wall of the plateau to catch the light of the rising Midsummer sun, though there is considerable question as to whether this was done by native worshippers, or in the post-conversion period...."

In the Germanic and Cetic worlds kings were crowned upon sacred stones. Phase III of Stonehenge fulfilled such a purpose and it is significantly round in shape. The hole in the Odin Stone megalith and those in the smaller Odin Stone amulets represented the Eye of Odin. In exchange for wisdom Odin deposited His eye in Mimir's well. His eye also signifies the light and wisdom of the sun. Significantly the so-called Celtic Cross or Sonnenrad is also called Odin's Eye or Wotans Auge.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Further Research into the Goddess Isa

In previous articles on this blog I have drawn my readers attention to an obscure and rather mysterious German Goddess who is variously called Isa/Zisa/Cisa and how there is a clear association between Her and the Dutch Goddess Nehelennia and that Tacitus in his Germania does refer to the worship of Isis. I have pointed out that Isa/Zisa/Cisa was worshipped by the same Bavarian Suebian tribes as Isis and how Isis was probably just Tacitus' classical interpretation of the name of this deity.

"Part of the Suebi sacrifice also to Isis; I have not ascertained the source from which this foreign rite originates, but the fact remains that the image itself, fashioned in the form of a light ship, proves that the cult is imported." (Tacitus' Germania 9.1, Rives translation)

"Some of the Suebi sacrifice also to Isis. I do not know the origin or explanation of this foreign cult; but the goddess's emblem, being made in the form of a light warship, itself proves that her worship came in from abroad." (Tacitus' Germania 9, Mattingley/Handford translation)

Tacitus makes the assumption that this Isis is a foreign deity. However I disagree. J.B. Rives in his commentary to Germania states:

".....most scholars agree that Tacitus (or more likely his source) identified a native goddess as Isis because of similar rituals involving ships. We should note that this is more a case of mistaken identity than of interpretatio Romana, since Tacitus seems to have thought that it was the actual Graeco-Egyptian goddess Isis whose cult these Suebi had adopted."

Rives goes on to discuss how in the Graeco-Roman world the chief priest of Isis would consecrate a small and beautifully adorned ship, loaded with offerings and send it out to sea. Nehalennia, a Frisian Goddess worshipped on the Dutch islands of Walcheren and Noord-Beveland is depicted on votive altars as having sometimes an oar or a ship's prow. We are reminded also of the Goddess Nerthus referred to in Germania 40.2-40.4 who is likely to have had some connections with sea-faring.

 "Nehalennia, the protectress of ships and trade, was worshipped by the Keltic and Teutonic races in a sacred grove on the island of Walcheren; she had also altars and holy places dedicated to her at Nivelles. The worship of Isa or Eisen, who was identical with Nehalennia, was even older and more wide-spread throughout Germany. St Gertrude took her place in Christian times, and her name (Geer, ie spear, and Trude, daughter of Thor) betrays its heathen origin."  (Asgard and the Gods, Wilhelm Waegner)

 There is also a connection between the Goddess Isa and the island of Iceland:
"Rassmann identifies Island as derived from Isa, a goddess of the under-world, probably the same as Holda, and not as Iceland."(Legends of the Wagner Drama by Jessie L. Weston)
Furthermore Weston also draws a link between Isolde and Isa:
 "German scholars give as the derivation Isolde, Iswalt or Iswalda (Eis-walterin=ruler of the ice), which explains the fact that the early German form seems to be Isalde, as in Wolfram, and not Isolde. The heroine then is no Celtic maiden, but a child of the north, a Viking's daughter; hence the legends always represent her as fair and golden-haired-she is 'die lichte' in the Northern versions, as distinguished from 'die schwarze', the rival Isolde." (Weston)
Isolde/Iswalt/Iswalda is clearly a personification of the Goddess. In the Nibelungenlied Iceland is not the island  that we know of today located in the North Atlantic Ocean but a mythical realm of the dead:

"With this closely agrees the Nibelungen-lied, which represents the princess as ruling over Island and dwelling in the castle of Isenstein on the seashore. (Rassmann identifies Island as derived from Isa, a goddess of the under-world, probably the same as Holda, and not Iceland.) (Weston)

In other words Isa is the Goddess of the underworld, comparable in part to the Goddess Hel of Norse mythology. Iceland is a representation of the mythical Island, the land of the Goddess Is or Isa.

"Common observation would teach the inhabitants of polar climates that the primitive state of water was Ice; the name of which, in all the northern dialects, has so near affinity with that of the goddess, that there can be no doubt of their having been originally the same, though it is a title of the corresponding personification in the East Indies." (An Inquiry into the Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology, Richard Payne Knight, 1818)

The northern origins of Isa are very clear:

"Her name seems to come from the north; there being no obvious etymology for it in the Greek tongue: but, in the ancient Gothic and Scandinavian, Io and Gio signified the earth; as Isi and Isa signified ice, or water in its primordial state; and both were equally titles of the goddess, that represented the productive and nutritive power of the earth; and, therefore, may afford a more probable etymology for the name Isis, than any that has hitherto been given. The god or goddess of Nature is however called Isa in the Sanscrit;...." (Knight)

The name Isa thus has a clear link with the Rune of the same name! Interestigly Isa was even known amongst the Laplanders (Sami):

"On a Lapland drum the goddess Isa or Disa is represented by a pyramid surrounded with the emblem so frequently observed in the hands of the Egyptian deities;
".....and it seems that the ancient inhabitants of the north of Europe represented their goddess Isa as nearly in the same manner as their rude and feeble efforts in art could accomplish; she having the many breasts to signify the nutritive attribute; and being surrounded by deer's horns instead of the animals themselves, which accompany the Ephesian statues. In sacrificing, too, the reindeer to her, it was their custom to hang the testicles round the neck of the figure, probably for the same purpose as the phallic radii, above mentioned, were employed to serve.

The Goddess was also worshipped in the temple at Old Uppsala in Sweden:

"...and in in the ancient metropolitan temple of the North, at Upsal in Sweden, the great Scandinavian goddess Isa was represented riding upon a ram, with an owl in her hand." (Knight)

Also Isa was portrayed with a quiver of arrows. I am reminded here of the Goddess Skadi who appears to share some of Isa's attributes and may be an aspect of Her:

"A similar union of attributes was expressed in the Scandinavian goddess Isa or Disa; who in one of her personifications appeared riding upon a ram accompanied by music, to signify, like Pan, the priinciple of universal harmony; and, in another, upon a goat, with a quiver of arrows at her back, and ears of corn in her hand, to signify her dominion over generation, vegetation, and destruction." (Knight)
It would thus appear that Isa's worship was not confined to the southern Germanic tribes such as the Suebi but She was known further north in Scandinavia, making Her a far more important deity than initially assumed.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Woden as the Sleeping King in the Mountain

In Germany there are a number of legends concerned with a sleeping king or emperor who will awake to save the Vaterland at the time of its greatest need. The sleeping hero is usually Karl der Große (not a hero but a xtian butcher in my opinion), Friedrich Barbarossa or Heinrich der Vogler (the Fowler, 876-936).

Karl der Große (Charlemagne/Charles the Great) was born in either 742, 747 or 748. There is no agreement on the date but we know he died in 814. He became King of the Franks in 768, King of Italy in 774 and Emperor in the West from 800. He is remembered particularly for his wars of extermination against the heathen Saxons in the 770s and the 780s along with the destruction of the Irminsul and many other shrines and temples.

Heinrich was the founder of the Ottonian dynasty, the first emperors of the First Reich. His son Otto I became Germany's first emperor. Heinrich became Duke of Saxony in 912 and was elected as the first Saxon king of East Francia (Deutschland) in 919. East Francia was the eastern division of the Carolingian Empire and lasted from 840 until about 962. This was the foundation for the modern German state. Wagner regarded Heinrich as a suitable historical figure for the pan-German movement to rally around and featured him in his 1850 music drama, Lohengrin.

Friedrich I (Barbarossa, 1122-1190), Duke of Swabia from 1147-1152, became King of Germany in 1152 and Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation in 1155. He became known as Barbarossa because of his red beard.
A detailed history of mediaeval Germany may be found in Benjamin Arnold's Medieval Germany 500-1300. A Political Interpretation, 1997.

Regarding Karl der Große he is said to slumber in many places, in particular in the Desenburg near Warburg, in the castle of Herstalla on the river Weser, in the Karlsburg on the river Spessart, in the Trausberg and in the Donnersberg in the Pfalz. Interestingly the Donnersberg is named after the German God of Thunder, Donar. The Romans called the mountain Mons Jovis after their Jupiter who as we know is also a deity associated with thunder and lightning. The highest point of the mountain is called the Königstuhl (King's seat) and the mountain itself is the highest peak in the Pfalz.

Heinrich der Vogler is said to sleep in the Sudmerberg near Goslar. Goslar as my Harz born mother always used to fondly tell me was a Kaiserstadt (an imperial city). However the German king who is most often associated with this legendary motif is in fact Barbarossa.

"The German people still maintain the same faith, for their hero has been seen by many of them in the Kyffhäuser mountain, in the old palatinate of the Saxon imperial house. There, in a cavern, with all his knights and squires around him, he sits to this day, leaning his head upon his arm,at a table through which his beard has grown, or round which, according to other accounts, it has grown twice. When it has thrice encircled the table, he will wake up to battle. The cavern glitters with gold and jewels, and is as bright as the sunniest day. Thousands of horses stand at mangers filled with thorn-bushes instead of hay, and make a prodigious noise as they stamp on the ground and rattle their chains. The old Kaiser sometimes wakes up for a moment and speaks to his visitors. He once asked a herdsman who had found his way into the Kyffhäuser, 'Are the ravens' (Odin's birds) 'still flying about the mountain?' The man replied that they were. 'Then', said Barbarossa, 'I must sleep a hundred years longer.'
"That Frederick and all the rest of the caverned princes and warriors are no other than Woden and his wild host, is clear from many details of the legends concerning them. People who visit the Emperor in the  Kyffhäuser receive just such presents as are given by the wild huntsman,-horses' legs or heads that afterwards turn into gold; and there is a lady in the Kyffhäuser, who is variously called the Princess, the Kaiser's housekeeper, Mademoiselle or Jungfer, and sometimes Frau Holle (Holda), who is beyond doubt Woden's wife Fria."(Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore, 1863, Walter Keating-Kelly)

Tales of famous mediaeval kings can also be found in the folk-lore of other European Aryan peoples but what is significant about the legend of Barbarossa in the Kyffhäuser is the direct association with the God Woden. This is what makes the study of folk-lore so important to us. Folk-lore provides a continuation of the myths of the Eddas into post-conversion times upto the modern era.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Frigg and Freyja, Originally the Same Deity?

One thing that has troubled me over recent years is the connection between Frigga, the supposed wife and consort of Woden, and Freyja, the Vanadis and sister-wife of Frey. There appears to me to be too much overlap in their functions and levels of importance for me to perceive these as separate deities. I have come to the conclusion that they are one and the same Goddess but with slightly differing emphasis placed upon their functions by the writers of the Eddas. We must remember that the Eddas as written literature only date back to the 13th century and are a reflection of post-conversion belief in Scandinavian society. Other Germanic peoples from different time periods and geographical locations would have viewed the Gods rather differently. However as they comprise our only complete written accounts of our deities we must take them as a starting point.

It is my argument that originally in Proto-Germanic times they were both the same Goddess. Freyja was mainly known within Scandinavia in early times and as modern day heathens of Germanic (but not necessarily Scandinavian) descent we must bear this in mind. Frigga however as a Goddess is attested to all over the Germanic world and is more dominant in Germany, England and the Netherlands. Let us explore the etymology of these two deities! Freyja is derived from Proto-Germanic *fraujaz, meaning Lady. In the Vanatroth Frey and Freyja are the Lord and Lady and this is reflected in a distorted form in modern Wicca which is an Old English word for witchcraft and is properly pronounced as witchuh. (See Witchdom of the True. A Study of the Vana-Troth and the Practice of Seidr, Edred Thorsson, 1999). In Old High German She is frouwâ. A later form of this is frû. In  Old Saxon She is frūa, in Old English frōwe and in Gothic. *fraujô. Ultimately the Germanic forms of the name derive from the Proto-Indo-European *pro-w-(y)o-s which means first as in foremost.

Frigg is derived from  the Common Germanic Frijjō. The Old Saxon Fri and the Old English Frig are related to this term. Interestingly the Sanskrit prīyā́ is related to Frijjō and has the meaning of wife, dear or beloved one. Frigg is clearly an important deity as Friday is named after Her. In Old English this day is called Frigedæg. The Modern German Freitag is derived from the Old High German Frîatac and Frîgetac. The names of the days of the week are ultimately derived from Roman Gods, translated into their  Germanic equivalents. This is often referred to as the Interpretatio Germanica. In the Roman system Venus is the deity associated with Friday so one would have expected that Freyja be the most appropriate deity to associate with this day as Frigg is more of a domesticated Goddess. However Frigg was more widely known than Freyja and direct Roman influence did not extend to Scandinavia. Interestingly Friday has two versions in Old Norse: Freyjudagr (for Freyja) and Frjádagr (for Frigg). No doubt the latter version is the result of South Germanic influence. So there is a certain amount of confusion between these two deities.

To think of Frigg as domesticated and Freyja as being more wild and untamed is perhaps a simplistic way of viewing these two deities as the etymology of words connected to Frigg will show. The A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary by J.R. Clark Hall reveeals the following:

A sample of words connected to Freyja:

freod- "peace, friendship, good-will, affection."
freodohtor-"freeborn daughter".
freodom-"freedom, state of free-will, charter, emancipation, deliverance."
freogan-"to free, liberate, manumit, love, embrace, caress, think of lovingly, honour."
freond-"friend, relative. lover."
freondlufu-"friendship, love."

A sample of words connected to Frigg:

frigea-"lord, master".
friclan-"to dance, to desire, to seek."

There are far more words in Old English which are cognate with Freyja than Frigg and there is also a noticeable overlap in meenings, particularly in words associated with freedom and love.  Figga's name continues today to be associated with the verb frig. Etymologically there is little difference between freo and frig and indeed the above-referred to dictionary does link the two words together in the following entry:


Frigg we certainly know was part of Anglo-Saxon religion but we have no such evidence regarding Freyja.However the lack of evidence is not in itself evidence of lack! The preponderance of freo related words is simply an illustartion of the connectivity of these two terms, nothing more.

In Lokasenna in the Elder Edda Loki makes the same kind of amorous accusations against Frigg as He does against Freyja, indicating that there is little to choose between them when it comes to morality. People often overlook this. In the Ynglinga Saga when Odin goes wandering He leaves His brothers Vili and Ve in charge and they also share His wife, Frigg! No doubt these are the indiscretions referred to in Lokasenna. Also we have the mysterious character Odr to contend with. He is regarded as the husband of Freyja in Gylfaginning and Skaldskaparmal in the Younger Edda. Rudolf Simek has this to say about Him:

"The most obvious explanation is to identify Odr with Odin; the similarity of the names (which show a parallel with Ullr/Ullinn), the long absence (cf. Odin's exile) and his marriage with Freyja (whom Grimnismal 14 identifies with Frigg, Odin's wife) support this suggestion." (Dictionary of Northern Mythology).
A marriage or union between Woden and Freyja is also indirectly supported by the fact that Freyja and not Frigg receives half of the heroic dead in Her Folkvangr (Gylfaginning 23 and Grimnismal 14) The fact that this is referred to in both the Elder and Younger Eddas is significant and likely an archaic concept. The sharing of the brave dead may be the result of an agreement made after the conclusion of the war between the Aesir and Vanir but why Freyja and not Frey or Njord should have this honour is not explained in the sources so it is my contention that this was a kind of gift bestowed upon Her as the result of Her union with Odin. With the subsequent separation of the Frigg/Frejya Goddess into two separate deities the reason has been lost and thus not revealed in the Eddas. After the conclusion of a war, especially one which ended in a truce it would have been natural for the two families of Gods to be united in marriage and this would have taken place between Woden and Freyja who in later times morphed into the separate Frigg. So in essence Frigg and Frejya represent two sides of the same being.

For whatever reason our ancestors saw the need to separate the role of Mother Goddess from Love Goddess but we should not be surprised about this. An analysis of the Eddas reveals scores of deities who are little more than names in many cases.